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  • We've Never Done It That Way Before

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    A property committee member complained some “knucklehead” installed the wrong bulbs in a room at church. I had to confess the knucklehead was me. I mistakenly took LED tubes from the supply closet and tried to insert them in fluorescent fixtures. No damage, but no light, either. This reminded me of the old joke about how many Baptists it takes to change a light bulb. In this case, the correct answer is “two.” But the traditional answer to the pun is, “Change? What’s that?” Thom Rainer of Chu...

  • O Death, Where Is Your Sting?

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    It’s been my experience that funeral home directors generally have a great sense of humor. I asked a gentleman about this once and he explained that a sense of humor is the only thing that saved him from awful depression. I can imagine these men and women deal with the greatest of tragedies. But on the other hand, I’ve heard some interesting stories from them. One funeral home employee told me about trying to salvage a graveside service after several pallbearers were drunk, and one fell into the...

  • No Turning Back

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    We planned a dream vacation several years ago to Las Vegas where we heard Barry Manilow and The Temptations (these are acts loved by old people). Part of the trip was my taking the short flight to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. and the short drive to spend a day at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library acquired the retired Air Force One in 2004, and the Air Force One Pavilion is a grand site. It’s been featured several times in Republican presidential debates. I r...

  • We Don't Want Your Money

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    I was the new pastor still learning my way around when Jim came to see me. He was chair of the budget and finance team. He wished me well, then shared a concern. “The committee met lately, and we have an issue with the visitor’s envelopes you’re using,” he said. “We believe we shouldn’t ask visitors for money.” Churches used to welcome visitors and give them a card requesting contact information and sometimes a ribbon to wear. This was before we learned to call them “guests” and since learned mo...

  • The Night Is Coming

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    She sat next to me at the hair salon. She leaned over and said, “Mister, has anyone ever told you that you have a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford?” Of course, I was pleased with my introduction to her, and immediately felt gratified that she thought I looked like a movie star. I told a friend about this later and he deflated me. “Well, Harrison Ford is a bit ‘long in the tooth’ now!” he said. Ouch. Anyway, this was my introduction to Cherry Starr, wife of legendary quarterback Bart Starr....

  • Build Your Hopes On Things Eternal

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    The college I worked for asked me to go to Washington, D.C. for a seminar with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. I didn’t have to be asked twice! It was a great several days on the CCCU campus a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. I met with 30 or 40 college students who were interning in government that semester. We later invited a CCCU rep to our campus in Marion to explain the “Best Semester” program, and as result, had a number of our students to attend one of the three...

  • A Friday To Remember

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    The wind in my face was bitterly cold in downtown Dallas a few years ago since the winter weather was yet lingering. My continuing education classes had ended at the seminary in nearby Ft. Worth, so the afternoon was free for some sightseeing. A chill came over me independent of the temperature when I walked onto Dealey Plaza and saw firsthand those sights emblazoned in my memory from childhood: Elm Street, the triple overpass and the sixth-floor window. I thought back to that terrible Friday...

  • "REFLECTIONS" Shiny Happy Christians

    Michael J. Brooks|Jul 1, 2023

    It’s been a season of hard-charging faith documentaries, including “The Secrets of Hillsong” and “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets." Both saddened me. I never watched any of the Duggar series on TLC, though I was aware of the basic plot through word-of-mouth. The “Shiny” documentary intertwines with the ministry of Bill Gothard, the Duggar’s mentor, with whom I’m more familiar. Gothard was popular in the faith community of the 80s and 90s. A pastor friend encouraged us, his pulpit broth...

  • Pray For America

    Michael J. Brooks|May 1, 2019

    May 2 was the National Day of Prayer when we pause to thank God for our nation, seek forgiveness for our sins and ask his guidance in the future. There were at least two major proclamations before the event was formalized. The Continental Congress called the colonies to pray in 1775, and President Lincoln asked the nation to pray in 1863. Our modern observance was created in 1952 under President Truman and amended under President Reagan in 1988 to fall on the first Thursday in May. Every preside...

  • What About Autographing The Bible?

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2019

    The recent tornado in Lee County, Alabama, was devastating with 23 lives lost—several in a single family. How sad that things changed for these residents in such a short time. U.S. presidents are expected to make appearances following disasters in order to boost morale. We remember President Obama touring Tuscaloosa with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in 2011. Likewise, President and Mrs. Trump visited the Auburn area to survey damage and offer encouragement. The president received criticism for a...

  • The Shack

    Michael J. Brooks|Sep 1, 2017

    A friend kept encouraging me to read “The Shack” so I could discuss it with her. I told her I don’t read much fiction and kept putting her off. But I found the DVD at the local library last week and watched this version of William P. Young’s 2007 book. I must say, though the viewing took two nights, it was hard to hit “pause” and go to bed! “The Shack” deals with tragedy when a little girl is kidnapped and murdered. In this regard, the book isn’t sugar-coated. Tragedy is part and parcel of life,...

  • Back to School

    Michael J. Brooks|Aug 1, 2017

    Where has the summer gone? Area schools open their doors again soon, to the chagrin of many students and to the delight of many parents. It was always a depressing time for me as a child when the more relaxed summer schedule was done! Christians go to school, too, for the New Testament calls us “disciples.” This word has two meanings: to follow and to learn. As someone noted, the followers of Christ are branded on their ears and feet, for we hear his voice and we follow him. Jesus, the master te...

  • Statues of Liberty

    Michael J. Brooks|Jul 1, 2017

    The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to celebrate our first 100 years of independence. Lady Liberty is 305 feet tall--the height of a 22 story building. It arrived by ship in 214 crates and was painstakingly constructed in New York harbor. Many of us remember the rededication of the monument in 1986. Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca headed an effort to raise money for extensive reworking. President Reagan superintended the ceremony of rededication. He lauded the American republic that is...

  • On Remembering

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2017

    It’s among the shortest verses in the New Testament, and it’s also filled with some mystery. Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Mrs. Lot is a minor figure in the Old Testament. We don’t even know her name. We only know she looked back at the burning Sodom and died Some believe this word is about disobedience; that is, God told Lot’s family not to look back and that’s all we need to know. In this regard, it would be like our first parents in Eden who were told not to eat of the tree...

  • God Has The Fried Chicken

    Michael J. Brooks|May 1, 2017

    I first heard the story years ago on Christian television when the author, Bob Benson of Nashville Christian music fame, told it. He called it the baloney sandwich story. And it's still a good one. A man had to work half a day one Saturday and belatedly remembered the church picnic was that afternoon at City Park. Since he lived alone and didn't cook much, all he found in the refrigerator was a crinkled piece of baloney and just enough mustard in the bottom of the jar to get it all over his...

  • WHERE IS GOD?

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2017

    The ancient patriarch Job felt all alone in his suffering. He said, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat (Job 23: 2)! I’ve heard people echo Job’s lament over the years. “Where is God when I need him?” or “God doesn’t hear my prayers!” or “What did I do to deserve this?” We’re human and forsakenness is a common emotion in our humanity. “Nobody knows the sorrow I’ve seen,” the old spiritual says. But we find an interesting take from the apologist C. S. Lewis...

  • The Greatest of These Is Love

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2017

    Karen Carpenter was the preeminent voice of the 70s. Along with her brother Richard she sold 160 million record albums. Karen sang love songs. “We’ve Only Just Begun” has been used at countless weddings over the years since she introduced it to the world. But in his book, “Little Girl Blue,” Randy L. Schmidt revealed that Karen Carpenter searched for love and never seemed to find it. Another of her songs is autobiographic: “I'll say goodbye to love / no one ever cared if I should live or die...

  • A More Excellent Way

    Michael J. Brooks|Feb 1, 2017

    He was deacon chairman in the church when I became the pastor. I was young and impressionable, and he made an impression on me. I still quote Horace, though he's been in heaven for many years, when I jokingly refer to the Sunday worship guide as the "bullington" as he did. Horace had a sense of humor, but everyone knew he loved the Lord and his church. One day his wife Ruth told me the season of the year we were in at the time--summer--was particularly hard for Horace. I asked her what she...

  • The What If's Of Life

    Michael J. Brooks|Jan 1, 2017

    We'll soon hear about the new president's "first 100 days." Writer Thurston Clarke published a history in 2013 not of the president’s first 100 days, but of his last 100 days. The president is John Kennedy and the book documents what JFK was doing day-by-day before the tragedy of Dallas. Clarke pulled together narratives from many sources and many cities. The reader feels a sense of dread as the days tick by and November 22 approaches. An intriguing aspect of this book is the initiatives Kennedy...

  • I Was In Prison

    Michael J. Brooks|Dec 1, 2016

    I traveled to a Tennessee prison last weekend to visit a cousin. My sister engineered our trip, and we picked up our cousin's brother en route and had a nice day, despite the major purpose of our excursion. I learned that other family members had been reluctant to go through the process of approval and to visit. I remembered once hearing a radio host fielding a call from a lady who'd distanced herself from relatives who had a family member in jail. "I don't want to be around them and I don't...

  • On Praising God

    Michael J. Brooks|Nov 1, 2016

    A former Nashville studio musician spoke to a group of church leaders in our city recently. He told us a little about his time in "Music City" and how decisions are made about what music to produce and sell. He said other than Bill Gaither's Homecoming music, the industry is producing only the so-called "praise and worship" music now. This music focuses on the majesty of God and is normally addressed to God the father or another member of the holy trinity. I say "so-called" praise and worship...

  • On Being Gracious To Those Who Differ

    Michael J. Brooks|Oct 1, 2016

    I heard about a presumably wealthy Texas cattle ranch owner who boasted about his holdings. When asked how he got such a big ranch, he replied that he bought up a bunch of smaller ranches and made them into one bigger ranch. He said he kept the names and made the new ranch a composite of them all. Thus he owned the "Lazy J Rolling S Mighty Texas Bar Seven Triple L Buffalo Nickel" cattle ranch. "Well, how many head of cattle do you own?" his friend asked. "Only seven," he replied. "I had a lot...

  • The Good and the Bad Side of Anger

    Michael J. Brooks|Sep 1, 2016

    I went to the business office to get a purchase order for office supplies; I think it was a box of file folders or paper clips, and the attendant questioned me like I was Oliver Twist asking for more gruel! I felt anything like a professional. My face began to burn and I stepped outside before saying something I might regret. Most of us have been in similar situations and know the body language of anger. Our face flushes, our jaws tighten, our eyes become narrow slits and often our voices are...

  • The Joy of Stuff

    MICH|Aug 1, 2016

    I read the story in "The Christian Century" last spring. The author and her husband held three teacups in their hands after the husband's mother downsized and moved to a smaller apartment. The couple talked about which items to keep, if any, or whether they should keep all three in a home that was already full of things. The question they asked about each item was, "Does this item spark joy?" The writer said she got this concept from Marie Kondo who's written extensively about de-cluttering one'...

  • Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

    Michael J. Brooks|Jul 1, 2016

    I vaguely remember the high school dating scene with multiple cases of “going steady” and break-ups. Some of these on-again, off-again relationships were hard to keep up with since they were on-again today and off-again tomorrow! Sometimes the break-up would be a note passed in class, or a tense telephone call. Break-ups were always hard to do, as Neil Sedaka used to sing. I heard on the news lately about a new break-up service for those too timid to do it themselves. For a fee the service will...

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